Sunday, March 28, 2010

Alfred bus shelter aka "Alfred Plaza"

The project of rebuilding the existing Alfred bus shelter began in November 2006 when Bland Hoke, a 2007 Bachelor of Fine Arts graduate of Alfred University, obtained a Community Initiative Grant from the School of Art & Design. According to Hoke, the grant “was targeted at working with the community. I gathered a group of students, and we researched a public amenity within the Village of Alfred that would be revitalized with the integration of public art.” The bus shelter, constructed in the early ‘70s by Glenn Zweygardt, a sculpture professor at the University from 1969 to 2007, was chosen because it had been decommissioned due to structural instability after more than 30 years of use. Additionally, its location on the corner of South Main and West University streets in Alfred make it highly visible to the Alfred community. Rebuilding the bus shelter was the pilot project of Alfred Community Outreach Through the Arts (COTTA), a student initiative co-founded by Hoke, whose objective was to “provide students with an educational experience in public art making while providing the Village with the service of renovation and beautification.”

Upon receiving the grant, Hoke contacted Alfred State College architecture professor Joy Carlson, who connected him with the Alfred State Architecture Club. Together, the two groups developed four different concepts for the new bus shelter and put up posters around the village explaining the project and requesting feedback from the community. On January 28th, 2007, COTTA and the Alfred State Architecture club held a “charette” session at the Village Hall involving business members, elected officials, residents, faculty and students. A charette is defined as a final, intensive effort to finish an architectural project. The charette provided an opportunity for anyone in the Alfred community interested to be a part of the project and included a trip to the site to make observations of existing conditions. Glenn Zweygardt participated in the charette, offering insights to any changes made and educating the community on his original concepts for the existing bus shelter. On February 1st, the two groups presented a semi-finalized concept to the Village Planning Board, which included many different Auto-CAD site plans, floor plans, renderings and virtual placement of the new bus shelter in the existing location. Considerations of the design included a backrest that blocked the prevailing wind but also functioned as a posting board for temporary and permanent postings, a paving pattern that allowed access to the sidewalk and a structure that served as a community-gathering place. The Village of Alfred Planning Board approved the final design on March 1st, 2007 and on April 19th, the structure was erected in just nine hours.

Sustainability of the bus shelter, which came to be known as “Alfred Plaza”, and the use of local, recycled and re-purposed materials were major factors influencing the design and construction of the shelter. The timber frame of the shelter was designed by the Alfred State Architecture Club and constructed using traditional timber framing techniques. It is constructed from white oak harvested locally by Eddie’s Lumber, and prefabricated in Wellsville by the Alfred State Timber Framing Club. The seven benches, designed by Hoke, are made entirely from durable recycled materials including Corian, composite decking and galvanized metal and will be virtually maintenance free for 25 to 30 years. Approximately 1 ½ tons of Corian flashing material, along with 1,000 pink, translucent acrylic promotional bracelets by Estee Lauder were procured from a landfill by the Hudson Valley Materials Exchange in order to construct the benches. The failed bracelets were used as spacers between the Corian to reduce the weight of the benches (each bench weighs approximately 600 pounds!) and allow water to flow through. The benches also make use of a repurposed rigid conduit lighting grid for support and recycled plastic timber for the seat. The roof of the structure was created using 15,000 terra cotta tiles donated by John Ninos and Alfred State architecture professor Terry Palmiter. The tiles serve to strengthen the shelter’s connection to the village of Alfred, which probably wouldn’t exist as we know it today if it weren’t for terra cotta.

The story of Alfred Plaza project is significant because is representative of collaboration between Alfred State, Alfred University and the community of Alfred. Hoke says, “I believe this project will be a catalyst for continued collaboration between Alfred University and Alfred State College. The two schools have tremendous capabilities in terms of applied skills, conceptual strongholds and a creative broth of students that are capable of doing just about anything. It will be exciting to see how Alfred melds and morphs in the coming years.” Furthermore, the design of the bus shelter as we know it today is significant because it considers sustainability and the use of recycled and repurposed materials for building, a phenomenon which is very much in the interest and spirit of this day and age.

Works Cited

Hoke, Bland. “Alfred Plaza Project.” [Weblog entry.] The Blog of Bland. 22 Apr 2008. ( 28 Mar 2010.

Hoke, Bland. Alfred Cotta. N.p. 3 Apr 2009. Web. 28 Mar 2010. (


  1. This blog post will be a key addition to Group 1's map. This map is based on the idea of transformation. The bus shelter is a prime example of the community's need for something new. The group COTTA saw the need for the update of an existing structure and with the help of Alfred University, Alfred State, and the Community they were successful in completing the project. It will be an interesting addition to the map as it is a rather recent transformation as well as the coming together of the entire Alfred community. It was also a very practical change. While it is an interesting structure by itself, it also fulfills the need within the community for a larger bus stop. The efforts of the group to use recycled and sustainable materials is also a transformation within itself. The idea of using acrylic bracelets to reduce the weight of the benches is a very unique solution to the design problem. This change within the community is an excellent example of the desire to make Alfred into a better, greener, and more practical place.

  2. It could be interesting to note whether this project received any opposition. What other structures were considered?

  3. Alfred COTTA originally came up with four concepts for the bus shelter, including a gazebo structure, a floating roof structure, and two gabled roof structures. The drawings for these structures can be found here on the Alfred COTTA blog:

    The students put up posters all over the village of Alfred with these four concepts and comment boxes and asked community members to vote on the designs on the website. The poster can be found here:

    The project didn't receive opposition as much as apathy. Few comments were left in the comment boxes and even fewer community members attended the charette session. Hoke said that the hardest part of the project was getting community members to trust that students could pull off such an ambitious undertaking.